On Northeast Coast, Portraits Of Japanese Resilience

March 16, 2011

Eyder Peralta

Download Story
Paula Bronstein
Riku Zentaka, Japan: Neena Sasaki, 5, carries some of the family belongings from her home that was destroyed after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

NPR's Rob Gifford left Sendai near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan and headed north. He drove for two hours and ended up at a hill in the town of Rikuzen Takata.

It was snowing and the birds were singing. It all seemed so normal.

But a half mile away, at the bottom of the hill, the scene was of utter devastation: back hoes were clearing a path; debris covered the streets: there was a kitchen sink, clothes, blankets, things that used to be part of somebody's home.

And now, Gifford reports, it's just nothing.

Gifford made his way to the town's gymnasium, where many of the town's people have sought shelter and all the devastation of the outside was in stark contrast to the order inside. One woman who had lost everything was sorting the trash, separating glass, from cardboard and plastic so it could be recycled. Here's a bit of their conversation:

Gifford spoke to another man, a long time resident and teacher:

In the car, Gifford reports, the news on the radio was all about the earthquake --about the two million Japanese without electricity, the 1.5 million without water, the hundreds of thousands displaced. But one thing, said Gifford, that struck him was the resilience and the dignity of the Japanese people as they work to recover from an unthinkable disaster.

(Note that we'll post full audio of Rob's piece at 7 p.m. ET.) Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.